THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (MoMA) in New York is welcoming a new curator. Earlier this month, Lanka Tattersall was named curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints. The appointment marks a return to MoMA. Tattersall served previously as a curatorial assistant in the museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture for four years (2010-14). She is officially joining the museum in her new role on July 1.

“Lanka brings with her both a fresh perspective about the art of the 20th century and a consummate insight into the generation of artists emerging today,” Christophe Cherix, MoMA’s chief curator of drawings and prints, said in a statement announcing the appointment.

Tattersall is currently an associate curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), a post she has held since 2015. During her tenure at MOCA, she has organized several notable exhibitions.

Recent shows include “Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin” (2018), which the museum described as bringing together the work of “three of the most influential photographers of modern life”; “Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun,” Steyerl’s landmark video installation first presented in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2015; and “Lauren Halsey: we still here, there” (2018), the artist’s first solo museum exhibition. During a talk at MOCA, Halsey characterized the site-specific, immersive installation as a “maximalist South Central paradise.”

Tattersall also curated another artist’s first-ever solo museum show. “Cameron Rowland: D37” is a conceptual presentation that examines the legacy slavery through the lens of contemporary found objects. On a federal redlining map from 1939, D37 designates the land on which MOCA sits. Rowland’s exhibition is on view through June 24.

“Lanka brings with her both a fresh perspective about the art of the 20h century and a consummate insight into the generation of artists emerging today.” — Christophe Cherix, MoMA Chief Curator of Drawings and Prints

TATTERSALL GREW UP in Los Angeles near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and later interned at MOCA. When she was hired at MOCA, she told The Los Angeles Times the museum played a formative role in her career path.

“MOCA was really the museum that shaped my ideas of what art could look like, and mean, and who it was made for,” Tattersall said. “Then when I was 18, I had an internship at MOCA and that was really the experience that made me want to be a curator and work at museums.”

She went on to earn a BA in the history of art and architecture from Wesleyan University, a master’s in modern art and curatorial studies from Columbia University, and an AM in the history of art and architecture, modern art from Harvard University, where she is currently a Ph.D., candidate.

Her doctoral dissertation focuses on Sigmar Polke’s work in the 1960s. During her first stint at MoMA, Tattersall was a part of the curatorial and editorial teams that worked on “Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010,” the German painter and photographer’s touring retrospective and coinciding catalog.

Tattersall has worked on several publications. She edited the exhibition catalog that accompanied “Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin,” and has contributed to many others, “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” among them. She authored “Black Lives, Matter,” which was published in the catalog that documented Marshall’s 35-year retrospective. In the essay, she analyzes his use of black paint to render his figures and the complexity of its “symbolic and literal valences.”

At MoMA, Tattersall’s responsibilities in the prints and drawings department will span developing exhibitions and catalogs, participating in the acquisition program and the installation of the collection galleries.

“I am thrilled to be returning to MoMA during this transformational moment in the Museum’s history,” Tattersall said in a statement.

“With its unparalleled collection, MoMA is an extraordinary place from which to build and question our understandings of art in our time. I eagerly look forward to supporting artists by bringing their inventive, challenging, and generative works and ideas to the Museum. Moreover, I am elated to have the opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues, both within the Department of Drawings and Prints and across the institution, as MoMA looks toward the future.” CT


TOP IMAGE: Lanka Tattersall. | Photo by Johanna Breiding, Courtesy MoMA


FIND MORE about Lanka Tattersall’s path to becoming a curator in an interview with tir journal

FIND MORE about the “Cameron Rowland: D37” exhibition Tattersall curated in reviews from the Los Angeles Times and Hyperallergic


Lanka Tattersall edited the exhibition catalog “Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin,” which features the curator in conversations with The New Yorker critic Hilton Als, writer Maggie Nelson, and artist A.L. Steiner. She also contributed to “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry” and “Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010.”


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